Written By: - Date published: 8:00 pm, July 7th, 2014 - 58 comments
Categories: david cunliffe, education, election 2014, Hekia parata, john key, labour, national, same old national, schools - Tags: #forabetterNZ, vote positive
I spent the weekend at the Labour 2014 Congress. The event was very well run and very enjoyable.
David Cunliffe’s speech was superb, just about the best that I have seen him give. He was obviously enjoying himself and the speech was very well received by the large crowd. Yesterday we saw a more natural David Cunliffe. If he campaigns in a similar mode this election will be Labour’s for the taking.
I must compliment the back room work that went into this. David’s helpers are highly professional intelligent people who put their heart and soul into the job. They occasionally get blamed when things go wrong even though they have no control over events but do not get credit when they do their job well. Keep it up guys and gals.
The emphasis in David’s speech was on education policy and Labour’s announcement of 2,000 new teaching positions in an effort to reduce class numbers is crisp clean policy which will have an immediate effect. Clearly the policy presents an alternative to National’s promise of $360 million for increased salaries for the selected few. That policy was clearly an attempt to wedge Labour on education policy. It is not normal tory behaviour to put more resources into education. The area is traditionally one of Labour’s strengths and National was clearly wanting to dampen this strength.
My thoughts on National’s policy was that it had no detail or substance. It was a large amount of money set aside to pay to preferred teachers without any thought being given into how they were going to be picked or what the expectations were for those teachers. The scheme was likely to fracture a profession which relies on collegiality and cooperation to function properly and maybe that was the idea.
Labour’s response is well thought through. Using the same money that was set aside plus a bit more Labour will employ more teachers, 2,000 of them, and reduce average class sizes. National has claimed that this is not a good spend of limited resources. But John Key’s words have come back to haunt him. If this is the case then why do private schools advertise smaller class size as an advantage? Allowing a teacher to spend more time on each of their pupils must have a beneficial effect on that pupil’s eduction.
Of course there are other things that can be done to improve education standards and alleviating child poverty is the most important. National is saying that class size only has a minor effect but when you look at Hattie’s list you have to think that smaller class sizes will have a significant beneficial effect.
For instance the following factors (ranked in importance) are considered to be amongst the most effective things you can do to improve education. And as pointed out by dv they are all beneficially affected by smaller class sizes.
The list includes:
3. Providing formative evaluation
4. Micro teaching
6. Classroom behavioural
7. Comprehensive interventions for learning disabled students
8. Teacher clarity
9. Reciprocal teaching
11. Teacher-Student relationships
Smaller class sizes will help of each of these.
And the cracks are starting to show. Campbell Live this evening invited Hekia Parata to debate education issues with Chris Hipkins but she declined to show up. This is not a novel proposal. Our politicians should front up and debate, in a respectful way, the issues that our country faces.
Labour now has 75 days until the next election. I believe its chances have been greatly enhanced by what has happened over the past four days.
Bring it on!